FOOTBALL: THE PURSUIT OF PERFECTION

FOOTBALL: THE PURSUIT OF PERFECTION

In the first of the two matches the defending champions Manchester City had against the league leaders Arsenal on a warm Manchester evening, Erling Haaland sprinted past the West Ham defence on a through ball by Jack Grealish as the clock approached 70 minutes. It had to happen. Haaland never misses these, a quick dink over the charging keeper followed by his signature yoga celebration.

In just his 31st game, Haaland scored his 35th league goal of the year. More significantly, in his first season, he shattered the Premier League goal scoring record. Put Mr. Andrew Cole and Mr. Alan Shearer and their 42-game league seasons to one side. Furthermore, it handed Manchester City a two-goal advantage for the evening.

Over the previous ten years, Manchester City has dominated English football.

The Spanish precisian went on to win four league championships in his six years with Barcelona after revolutionising the sport with the development of Tiki Taka. It marks a dominance unseen since the late 1990s with Manchester United.

Manchester City may yet become only the

second English club to complete a treble. A

Spaniard and a Norwegian have played the

biggest role in making it possible.

Haaland, who is only 22 and has already established himself as a top-level goal scorer, joined the likes of Riyad Mahrez, Kevin de Bruyne, Jack Grealish, John Stones, and Kevin de Bruyne as the newest high-profile acquisitions at the Etihad Stadium. His impressive 23 goals in just 19 appearances in the Champions League serves as proof.

Both teams had the opportunity to debut a brand-new, high-priced addition to their attacking lineups in the season-opening FA Community Shield game between Liverpool and Manchester City. The night belonged to Liverpool.

All the new players have had some time to get used to Guardiola’s techniques and his precise style of play, with the exception of de Bruyne, who came a year before Guardiola took over at Manchester City. Mahrez didn’t simply fly in from Leicester and start performing his signature chop-on-the-left-foot finishes. Before claiming the defensive core of City’s defence as his own, Stones had to wait a good several years.

Although the first game may have hinted that Haaland might follow that path, he went on to become the man to score 10 Premier League goals the fastest, doing so in just six games. He hasn’t slowed down either.

In just eight games, they scored twelve goals in the Champions League, setting a record for the quickest 35 goals in the illustrious competition. The breaking of the long-standing single-season goal scoring mark has already been mentioned.

You can easily locate a list of Erling Haaland’s goals scored in a particular season by searching for Manchester City or the Premier League. In 45 games across all competitions, 51 goals were scored. Fantastic; a commentator described him as “the guy’s a robot, absolute goal machine.”

Not only did he get off to a fast start in Guardiola’s City, but he also has other unique qualities. Haaland is a gigantic 6 feet and 5 inches tall and 88kg in weight. Haaland, though, combines these with ferocious acceleration and pace, reaching a season-high highest measured speed of 36.5 km/h.

The fusion of Guardiola’s hunger for control and Haaland’s direct play to enable astonishing creative genius was a lovely outcome. In retrospect, it wasn’t even all that anti-Guardiola. The Abu Dhabi-backed football team continues to be a powerhouse as a result. The sky-blue ribbons aren’t going anywhere.

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